14 March 2015
‘Shoot the Pianist’ is an exhibition revisiting the underground noise scenes in Taipei during the first-half of the 1990s. Its title is taken from a dystopian parable written by the Taiwanese noise band LTK Commune, which depicts how the social system of Taiwan gradually collapses when a number of classical pianists are shot dead and ‘the nation becomes under the control of a bunch of pang-ke (punks)’.
Following the lifting of martial law and the March Student Movement, the early 1990s in Taiwan saw a critical transition from an authoritarian regime towards an increasingly democratic polity and a neoliberal capitalist society. It was also a period when the underground arts scene around the capital city of Taipei was booming. Utilising emerging alternative art spaces and outdoor festivals as platforms, young artists and cultural workers explored various art forms, ranging from noise performances, junk art, ‘little theatre’, installation, fanzine, underground comics and experimental film, as ways to challenge mainstream culture and what they perceived to be an institutional artworld. Their practices would be described as the ‘underground noise movement’ in later years.
‘Shoot the Pianist- The Noise Scene in Taipei 1990-1995’ held at the Peltz Gallery will for the first time in the UK, trace the historical development of these local noise scenes with archival materials. These materials include handbills, ‘zines, photographs, moving-images, homemade cassettes and records from alternative spaces Sickly Sweet and Apartment No. 2; the art group, Taiwan Documenta; the noise bands, Z.S.L.O. and LTK Commune; Taipei Broken Life Festival (1994/95) and the first local record label focusing on experimental sound, Noise. These historical documents will be augmented by prolific Taiwanese artists HOU Chun-ming and YAO Jui-chung’s works, which include prints and photography documenting the urban ruins in the early 1990s.